Every open space in the Mathers Museum of World Cultures was full during the final public event connected to the One Million Stars to End Violence project.
Not only were there tables set up in the entrance, but also some in the back room.
The well-known Martin Luther King Jr. quote, “Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that,” shone on the screen at the front of the room, connecting the significance of the day with the project’s goals of eliminating violence.
Loraine Martin, outreach director for the Lotus Education & Arts Foundation, said the progress made by Bloomington in reaching the 10,000-star goal has been impressive.
“There are a lot of great conversations happening in these rooms right now and that shows the power of the arts and what they can do as a vehicle for change,” Martin said.
Martin was among many of Lotus’ volunteers helping the children and community members weave the stars throughout the event.
Martin said more than 70 groups, organizations and community events have helped Lotus reach and even surpass their initial goal, though it was sad when the organization was not able to reach the goal after the Lotus Festival, when there were just over 3,000 stars woven.
“I had a really good feeling that our community would be up to the task, would embrace it, and, as you can see here, we have all sorts of groups and community members and workplaces represented,” Martin said.
Monday’s event began with 10,351 stars, Martin said.
All the woven stars will be sent off to the founder of the project in March.
Maria Pairitz, who is studying arts education, said she is sad this is the first star-weaving event she has attended.
The idea behind the weaving, she said, made her wish she had heard about them earlier.
“Part of one of my classes requires that I go out and observe art-making in the community, and this seemed like a really cool event,” Pairitz said. “Also, since Martin Luther King Day is the day of service, I wanted to do something service wise.”
The service angle is just one of the reasons this event stood out, Pairitz said as she wove one of her own stars from blue and fuschia ribbons.
“It’s awesome because it’s something so small, just making these little stars,” Pairitz said. “Sometimes activism can feel like ‘I have to do something big and change the world right now,’ weaving stars is just a small act.”
Martin said the act of folding the stars out of pieces of colored ribbon or paper is one that is not only easy to execute but representative of the people involved in their creation.
“The simple act of creating a star is symbolic of our own responsibility to make peace. It starts with ourselves,” Martin said. “Each of these stars represents the many hands and hearts and minds that have contributed to this project.”
The event also allows for intersections between groups who seem on the surface to be so different and allows those groups to unite under a common goal.
“I like it just because there is such a diverse demographic of people here — age and race, students, adults — it’s nice to find one thing that we all can relate to, sometimes that big a gap in any sense can make it hard to relate or connect,” Pairitz said.
The human connection is also something Martin said was a goal of the One Million Stars weaving project.
“This project embraces you talking to each other, talking to people you may not normally interact with, and really embraces the ideas of love and peace as ways to build bridges and connect with those around us, those different than us and those we don’t know,” Martin said.